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Boron Miners Strike Solidarity Committee

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
ILWU LOCAL 10, Henry Schmidt room
400 North Point St.
San Francisco

There will be an important meeting at ILWU Local 10 to organize support for the 600 Boron miners, now locked out in the Mojave Desert by global mining giant Rio Tinto for nearly 3 months.

This solidarity committee will be similar to ones organized in the Bay Area in the past to support the ILWU in the 2002 employer lockout, the Charleston 5 defense committee, the sacked Liverpool dockers and the anti-apartheid struggle.

Members of all ILWU locals and retirees are invited to participate as well as other union members, antiwar activists and May Day organizers.

The ILWU miners' struggle is at a critical stage and solidarity actions at this point could turn the tide in favor of the union. The alternative would be a defeat not only for a local of arguably the most militant union in this country, but could become another PATCO, spreading dire consequences for the rest of the ILWU and organized labor.

Please make every effort to attend. Victory to the Boron miners!


ILWU LOCAL 10, Henry Schmidt room
400 North Point St.
San Francisco

Boron miners will be in attendance, and will give a report on the critical situation they face.


Dear Comrades,

As you may know, 600 ILWU borate miners employed by Rio Tinto in Boron, California have been locked out and are waging a desparate struggle. May Day will be the 3rd month of the lockout, an employer strike against the union. Rio Tinto, a global mining giant, has declared class war against the most militant union in the United States, the ILWU. Rio Tinto, which was nurtured under Franco's fascist dictatorship in Spain, has earned a reputation as rapacious capitalists who evict indigenous peoples off their resource-rich land, destroy the environment and bust trade unions. This is a struggle which workers in the U.S. can not lose because after the miners, the longshore workers will be next and then the organized labor movement. It is similar to the 1980 PATCO air controllers' strike broken by President Ronald Reagan. Workers of the world must stand together on May Day against this brutal attack. As the old syndicalist slogan goes: "An injury to one is an injury to all!"

I implore you in the spirit of working class militants on the barricades, carry a banner on May Day in solidarity with the locked out miners in Boron, California. On May Day 2008, the ILWU shutdown ALL West Coast ports to protest the imperialist war in Afghanistan and Iraq demanding an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Supporters of the ILWU around the world held banners and posters at May Day rallies in support of our strike, took photos and sent them to us. Could you please do the same to help build morale for our miners at a critical moment of this struggle and build international labor solidarity?

Victory to the ILWU miners!

jackheyman [at]

P.S. You can also fax solidarity greetings to

ILWU Local 30 760-762-5542

ILWU Local 10 415-441-0610

ILWU International 415-775-1302
Added to the calendar on Sun, Apr 25, 2010 7:44AM
§The button from the aftermath of the Boron struggle of the 1970's
by longshoreman's daughter

Comments (Hide Comments)
by longshoreman's daughter
Below are excerpts from the Longshore-Warehouse Militant which was distributed at the April 1975 International Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was after the four months lost strike of ILWU Local 30 in the fall of 1974. That strike was defeated with the loss of 400 jobs to scabs who remained employed after the strike ended.

Howard Keylor - Retired member of ILWU Longshore Local 10
howardkeylor [at]



At Boron the International allowed a militant local to be defeated by company scabherding. The International allowed things to degenerate so far that Local 20A (in Wilmington) went back to work processing scab Boron products while Boron Local 30 was still striking. The international then refused to authorize the longshore division to stop scab borax shipments. Boron was a landmark defeat for our union and Fortune magazine, December 1974, has written the strike up as a management manual for future strikebreaking.


Monday morning some International Officials launched a direct attack on union democracy. Harry Bridges personally led an unsuccessful move to forcibly remove a table put up (in the Hotel lobby) by a grouping of oppositionalists in the union. Bridges objected to Longshore-Warehouse Militant's slogans which read: "For a Unionwide strike to Defend the Canadian ILWU and Win Jobs". "Defend the Boron Local Against US Government Attack". "For International Labor Solidarity - Union Action to Fight Deportations". "For a Militant Democratic ILWU - Oust the Bridges Machine"

Rank and file longshoremen and warehousemen were manhandled and one sign from the literature table was torn. A number of delegates spoke out against the attack. We stood our ground and the right of rank and file members to express their opinions and raise a fighting strategy for the union won out.

Then the officers moved to exclude union members who are in good standing but not delegates from attending the Constitution Committee. This was done in complete violation of the Convention Rules read Monday which specify that all proceedings are open to any member in good standing. An attempt to put through a similar exclusion in the Officer's Report Committee was defeated when delegates forced the issue to a vote. Delegates from Locals 13, 17, 500, and 142 spoke against the attempt to exclude non-delegates.

In the Resolutions Committee, a delegate from Local 10 moved that Stan Gow, a Local 10 executive board member, be allowed to speak on a motion that he and Howard Keylor had submitted. Again it was hotly debated with several speakers on both sides before the Committee refused him permission. Nothing in the international Constitution prohibits a non-delegate being given voice in Committee. But the pro-International forces didn't want a motion for a unionwide strike in defense of the Canadian ILWU and to win 30 for 40/6 for 8 debated.

Finally, the officers imposed a rule on the Officers' Report Committee that it could not amend the report in any way, i.e., it was either the officers' policies or nothing. This attempt was no doubt motivated at least partly to head off a fight over Boron. The Report of the Officers on Boron is a direct attack on rank and file militancy. It blames the ranks for fighting for "far out demands" which basically boiled down to a hefty wage raise to match the 25% inflation rate in Boron and maintaining jurisdiction on work the union has traditionally done. While correctly noting that Local 20A went back to work, it doesn't report that the 20A ranks were so disgusted at the anti-union policies of their own officers that they voted them out right after Boron was defeated.

Finally, the officers' Report attacks the concept that it should have authorized Local 10 longshoremen to refuse to handle scab borax. Local 30 directly requested this of Local 13 and longshoremen honoured the picket lines until ordered by an arbitrator and Bridges to go back to work. The whole idea of a joint warehouse and waterfront union is to bring concentrated power behind what would otherwise be isolated strikes. Boycotts on the docks are one of our strongest weapons. The Convention must reject outright this attack on the courageous Boron membership.

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